Deaths From Post-surgical Complications on the Rise

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According to a new study, preventable post-surgical complications among men and women who have inpatient urological surgeries are on the rise. These preventable complications include sepsis (blood poisoning or infection), pneumonia, blood clots, shock, and cardiac arrest (heart attack), as well as upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

The study, which was performed at the VUI Center for Outcomes Research, Analytics and Evaluation at Henry Ford Health System, analyzed data from all discharged hospital patients undergoing low-risk surgeries (such as transurethral resection of the prostate and bladder biopsies). It included almost 8 million surgeries that were performed between 1998 and 2010. About two-thirds of the study participants were men, primarily because of the high number of prostate procedures performed in the United States.

The research revealed that patient deaths related to “failure to rescue” (FTR) following “recognizable or preventable complications” from urological surgery increased an average of 1.5 percent per year during the 12-year period for which data was evaluated. These results are important because the failure to rescue rate (or FTR rate) refers to the rate of deaths that occur after a treatable complication.

Patients and healthcare consumers should be concerned with a hospital’s FTR rate for various procedures because a hospital’s ability to successfully treat complications once they occur has been found to be strongly related to the quality of care the hospital generally provides.

Medical Malpractice And Reasonableness Of Care

Quality healthcare is important in America. Consumers expect hospitals and clinics to provide a high level of care, as well as maintain policies and procedures that maximize patient safety and minimize the chances for dangerous or deadly medical errors.

In Florida, the law requires that a health care provider deliver care at a level that meets or exceeds the prevailing professional standard of care for that individual’s specialty or type of provider. This means that the level of care, skill, and treatment given by a provider must be at a performance level that a reasonably prudent similar health care provider would deem acceptable and appropriate under the circumstances.

This standard of care holds true for a healthcare worker’s responsibility to be aware of– and respond appropriately to—a patient’s post-surgical complications. It means that health care workers have a duty to appropriately monitor a patient after surgery in order to detect possible harmful or life-threatening complications.

Whether doctors, nurses, or other health care providers at a hospital or healthcare facility properly respond to complications often depends upon whether someone notices that a patient’s condition is starting to deteriorate. This is why proper facility staffing levels are important along with proper performance of patient care responsibilities. When facilities are improperly staffed, or nurses or other health care providers are over-worked, circumstances can arise where a healthcare provider may fail to notice a patient’s deteriorating condition and lead to situations where the provider:

  • fails to make or take necessary patient status observations;
  • fails to record observations regarding a patient’s status;
  • fails to recognize early signs of patient deterioration; or
  • fails to communicate observed signs of patient deterioration.

Any of these failures can result in serious, life-threatening consequences for a patient or even patient death, and may give rise to a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one has experienced a post-surgical complication that you feel may have been caused by a health care provider’s negligent care, the Tallahassee medical malpractice lawyers at Fasig & Brooks are available to listen to your situation and discuss your legal options. Call us at (850) 222-3232 or use our online contact form to get immediate help with your legal questions.